The Bengals need to be careful.
For the first time in nearly 20 years, Cincinnati has hit the jackpot with the No. 1 overall pick. Their new prize is a golden boy quarterback from their own state with a bravado and “it” factor that is perfect for leading a franchise out of obscurity.
Joe Burrow is the guy that can transform the Bengals franchise.
However, there should be cause for concern in the organization if Burrow continues to rack up the number of hits he’s been taking so far this season. In only two games the young quarterback has already been sacked six times and hit 13 times in two games. He has taken some hits that have even made me clutch pearls, and my checks come in whether Burrow stays healthy or not.
It’s obvious that Burrow is a star-in-the-making QB, but just like anything of value, he needs to be protected. The first two games of the season are emblematic of the start Andrew Luck, another No. 1 pick with tremendous promise, had before having to cut his career short due to injuries to his shoulder, kidney, abdomen, brain and calf.
After being drafted No. 1 overall by Indianapolis in 2012, the first season behind center for the Colts resulted in an 11-5 season and a wild-card loss to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens, but the lasting effects of that season, as well as the organization’s continuous failure to protect him, likely took its toll on Luck, who retired just before the 2019 season.
The Colts gave up 3.9 sacks a game that season and left a young and inexperienced Luck exposed to NFL defenses. Currently, the Bengals are allowing Burrow to get sacked 3.0 times a game and that’s not even accounting for the number of vicious hits he has taken.
Last night in Cleveland, a split-second after Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (a No.1 overall pick himself) stripped Burrow of the ball just north of Cincy’s own end zone, Porter Gustin delivered a cringe-worthy blow on Burrow. Burrow got up and moved on, but he just can’t take too many of those. But with the Bengals currently ranked in the bottom half of the league in sacks allowed, it’s very likely he will.
Also, Burrow just like Luck, is deceptively mobile and he is not afraid to use his feet to pick up yards. This makes him even more vulnerable to big hits throughout the course of a season. So, the emphasis on pass protection in the pocket should be of the utmost importance to this organization.
ESPN analyst and former Pittsburgh Steeler Ryan Clark even called for Burrow to have a redshirt season as the organization finds a way to tune up its offensive line. This way Burrow doesn’t take unnecessary hits and doesn’t develop injuries that could potentially be damaging to the longevity of his career while the Bengals continue to lose games.
It’s a notion that likely won’t sit well with Burrow because like any competitor he likely feels he can be the difference between winning and losing.
Burrow possesses the same mentality that so many great quarterbacks have had before him. It’s no surprise that even without a normal offseason or any preseason games that he’s already breaking rookie passing records.
“I will never adjust or accept losing,” Burrow said postgame. “That is just something that is not in my mindset so this 0-2 start is really hurting me.
“Losing isn’t very fun,” Burrow stated. “This might be the only time in my sporting career that I have lost two games in a row. It doesn’t feel very good. I know that the guys in there are hurting. We are going to come back to work tomorrow and try to get this thing right.”
While the 24-year-old will not accept losing, it’ll likely be his reality for the foreseeable future. The Bengals just aren’t that good in too many areas.
He’s going to need help in order to grow in Cincinnati and become the Bengals’ leader for the next ten years. It all needs to start with the offensive line.
No one around the league, and especially no one in Cincinnati, wants to see another Luck situation.
The Bengals organization is now in the spotlight and they have a huge problem to fix.
If they want this man to be their quarterback of the future, they can’t wait to get him so protection.